An Array of Entrances

There were two very positive developments regarding Salem’s historical fabric this week: the city’s Cemetery Commission voted to close the Old Burying Point during October, thus shielding our oldest cemetery from its annual occupation by Halloween tourists, and the Peabody Essex Museum announced that it would be returning the anchor which was situated in the front of East India Hall for a century or so to Salem. I am heartened and happy and have nothing to complain about or advocate for in this post! So let’s celebrate with some color, as found on a veritable rainbow of Salem doors. My first house in Salem had a red door, and everyone would comment on it when I told them where I lived; now red is pretty commonplace, but my impression is that the most common door color in Salem is still black. Greens—especially dark green—would be next, followed by a variety of reds, blues, pinks, and orange/peach doors, and finally brown and gray doors. Of course there are lovely Salem doors which are varnished rather than painted, but I’m not including them here. There are yellow doors in every neighborhood, but cream and white doors are hard to find: generally the latter are new Home Depot-ish doors, and not very interesting. There are some pretty nice new custom doors opening out onto the streets of Salem, but if I was in need of a door I think I’d rather find an old one at Old House Parts or somewhere similar. I’ve got one white door here, with some pretty distinctive hardware, and lots in more vivid hues, beginning with the painted door installation at Salem’s Tabernacle Congregational Church, representing diversity and acceptance of all.








20190912_105451Another reason to praise PEM: the beautiful restoration of the Daniel Bray House on Brown Street: it doesn’t have its new/old door yet as you can see–and I’m not sure if it will be painted this light orange color.











20190827_112305Dark Brown/Red is a classic Salem combination.



pixlr-1Turquoise is the current it-color, I think.










9 responses to “An Array of Entrances

  • az1407t

    Wow! I love all of those vivid colors – real eye-catchers. Salem is taking a walk on the wild side! LOL

  • Glenn McDonald

    Hi Donna, Thanks for this one… your eye doesn’t let much get past.

    Apropos of nothing in particular, I took a turn through the Pages of my 1909 Polk’s City Directory for Salem and its environs. The subject was restaurants, and to my surprise, there were twenty. The only ones I recognized were the Chase House and Mrs. Ebsen’s place at the Willows and, perhaps, Low Hung Far, at 129 Washington ST, which may, or may nor be the predecessor to Salem Lowe at the Willows.

    I should note that in addition to the twenty restaurants and many private clubs, there were ten Temperence Societies going strong in 1909.

    Cheers to all from Maryland

    • daseger

      You know, there’s a perception now that Salem is restaurant-central and has more restaurants than it has ever had, but I wonder how they would bear out with some actual historical comparisons. Salem has always been a foodie place, I think.

      • Glenn McDonald

        The Puritan Arms, on Washington ST, was always one of my favorite places. It was on the site of the present court house, and was across the street from the Eastern Mass. Street Railway terminal.

        Best of all, though, was the basement, where Joe Roach’s antiquarian bookshop, which I haunted until the early 1960s fire wiped everything out.

        As you probably know, the Willows had three restaurants located almost side-by-side on what is now the grassy area near Fort Pickering. The Chase House burned around 1945, just before I was born. We were regulars at Ebsen’s and Swenbeck’s restaurants until they, too, burned. My predominant memory isn’t of the food, though. What I remember most vividly is that food and drink were served on original, mix ‘n match Fiestaware.

  • kkane5666

    I’ve heard that Queen Victoria, after Prince Albert’s death, ordered doors to be painted black. Husbands arriving home after nightfall often found themselves in the wrong homes. The wives then painted an array of colors so as to help their wayward husbands.

  • Helen Breen

    Hi Donna,

    There was a nice piece yesterday (or was it Sunday?) in the Boston Globe about the closing of the Old Burying Point cemetery during the month of October – very well explained. Also happy to learn that the anchor will return to the PEM where it belongs.

    I enjoyed your collage of Salem doors. They reminded me of that famous poster/calendar/place mat motif of the Georgian doors of Dublin. Well done…

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